Around-the-Clock Managed Firewall Protection

By Patricia Fusco | Posted February 13, 2004

Internet security solutions provider Network Associates recently released McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP, a managed, host-based firewall technology for small- and medium-sized businesses.

McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP is a managed firewall security service that monitors, controls, and logs a computer's network and system activity. McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP provides PC protection for small- to medium-sized businesses that have limited IT staff or lack the resources needed to effectively maintain desktop security systems.

The firewall system is ideal for always-on online broadband connections because it offers round-the-clock firewall protection. By blocking unauthorized network access and data theft, as well as stopping known hacks, nukes, Trojans, and denial of service (DoS) attacks, there is no reason to ever leave any PC unprotected.

Lillian Wai, Network Associates product marketing manager, explained the company's value proposition of its ASaP desktop security lineup.

"We like to take technology and security to SMBs as fast as possible," Wai said. "Because we manage the security service, small businesses don't need to focus their time, energy and resources on anything other than their businesses."

Eric Hemmendinger, research director for security and privacy at Aberdeen Group, said McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP effectively thwarts blended security threats that seem to slip by traditional network firewalls.

"McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP is a highly effective endpoint security solution that protects the networks and PCs of small and medium businesses from malicious applications," Hemmendinger said. "As an automated managed service, McAfee's offering is well-suited to time- and resource-challenged small and mid-size enterprises that must ensure uptime for systems and networks."

Scuttle Spiteful PC Assaults
McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP offers quick deployment and automatic product updates via the Internet. The security agent is quick and easy to install. It also works hand-in-hand with Network Associate's other McAfee ASaP offering — Virus Scan. Less hard disk space is used on a PC that deploys both McAfee anti-virus and firewall services because Network Associates entire lineup of ASaP security products use the same software agent.

"We designed McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP to share a common client with McAfee Virus Scan ASaP. The common platform resides on the same agent so it takes up minimal space," Wai said. "Firewall ASaP uses less then 10 MB of drive space. Similar full software programs typically use up 30 to 50 MB."

McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP also employs bandwidth-friendly McAfee Rumor Technology to manage security challenges. As part of ASaP online managed services, Rumor provides the advanced mechanism for keeping the firewall service up to date. By using secure, peer-to-peer communication to distribute product updates between desktops, Rumor minimizes the number of desktops that have to obtain product updates via the Internet. With Rumor, desktops share updates automatically and independently of any interaction with a network administrator or end-user, saving valuable company bandwidth and IT resources.

"Our target market is small businesses that do not have a complex security system in place. Usually a firewall system will receive an annual update from its manufacturer," Wai said. "With McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP the product updates itself. The agent actively looks for new dat files that are automatically pushed to the PC when available. The same system applies to Virus Scan ASaP. Together the two security systems overcome a major hurdle for small businesses — keeping their virus protection and firewalls up to date."

Wai said the entire product family of McAfee Security's ASaP services has been designed to provide small businesses with the assurance that they have the most robust solution in place to secure their desktops.

"McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP offers updated functionality for unparalleled firewall protection, helping to block unwanted traffic that would otherwise disrupt a company's online experience, Wai said. "McAfee Virus Scan ASaP provides users with complete protection from outside threats."

Cheaper than a Cup a Joe
No disks are required to get either ASaP anti-virus or firewall system up and running on a PC. Both are available for download from Network Associates. With support for Windows 2000 and XP, McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP is automatically updated upon computer start-up and immediately monitors the flow of information in and out of the organization.

McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP offers five custom security settings — ranging from trusted to open — to establish a custom security policy. Most desktop security systems only allow three levels of protection — high, medium or low settings. The default security setting on McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP is "medium," and with its improved user interface McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP is also easier to control than traditional firewalls.

"If there is already a firewall on the desktop, McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP will automatically uninstall," Wai said. "If there is a firewall at the gateway, we will work with the network administrator to configure a security appliance at the gateway."

And the pricing is attractive, too. At just $2.70 per month per node — about $30 per year per person — small businesses can protect their PCs for less than the price latte grande.

"We position the product based on customer need," Wai said. "There will always be an aspect relative to control small businesses must be willing to give up when subscribing to a hosted service. Some people think managed services are risky — not so. We understand what our small business customs need — an outsourced security solution that is transparent to end users."

A 30-day free trail is available online. It is a fully functional version of McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP for use on up to five desktop PCs. Network Associates figures that when users see the Web-based reports the show how McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP is protecting a PC, they'll be hooked. The reports track all inbound and outbound traffic events, including regular Internet traffic and details of any hacking attempts, intrusions, pings and any potentially malicious events, as well as normal spyware and adware triggers.

McAfee Desktop Firewall ASaP is available immediately from Network Associates and through Network Associates channel partners. Minimum system requirements include Windows 98, ME, 2000, or XP operating systems running on a Pentium 133 MHz processor or higher, 16 MB RAM, 8 MB free hard-drive space, and Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or higher.

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